Monday, April 25, 2016

Chattanooga, What A Hoot!!

The fleet! gorgeous, right? The orange spinnaker belongs to Rob Fowler's new boat photo: Jim Davis

Well, Chattanooga sure was a blast again this year!

With 29 boats, about double the typical turnout, it was as if all the stars aligned: Birmingham Sailing Club, one of the largest southern fleets outside of Florida, decided to start traveling and three or four boats came from there; Lynn and Bill Bruss from Chattanooga spent the winter racing in Florida, and so Mark and Michelle Taylor returned the favor, traveling up from Tampa for the weekend; Lake Keowee sent three boats; and the Midwest District continued to support the event with five boats from Madison, Carlyle and Clinton.
Part of the Midwest crew ~ from left, Stacey Rieu, Ryan Malmgren, Rachel & Bronson Bowling, Eric Bussell, Linda & Gregg Vitt

Pretty darn awesome!

PLUS, two new boats made their debut at the event. Lynn and Bruce Kitchen from Cowan Lake, Ohio, brought their Ohio-State-red, brand-new boat, Kitchen Sink III, and Chattanooga Fleet Captain Rob Fowler took delivery of his lovely gray and white, brand-new boat (with bright orange, Tennessee spinnaker!) the evening before the event. Harry Carpenter not only brought the boat down but sailed with Rob for the regatta.

And we had fabulous weather. Plenty of wind on Saturday allowed us to get three races in. There were many hard-fought contests: at the end of the day the top three boats (Mark and Michelle Taylor, Harry Carpenter and Rob Fowler, and Richard Wade and Jim Leonard) were separated by three points. Deeper into the fleet there were numerous clusters of equally close contests.

Saturday night, in addition to a delicious dinner (thank you to Linda Lind and her tireless crew of kitchen elves) we had a corn hole/bean bag contest.

Lo and behold, it turns out the Midwest District had a ringer in its midst! John Cassada, who had never played before, was, in any case, an experienced horseshoe player. Once he got the rules down (not all that complicated, of course!), he and Eric Bussell took the day, beating outAdam and Peyton 21-0 in the final round. I gather John's steady consistency and Eric's occasional flash of brilliance carried the day. This was particularly amazing considering most rounds were taking 30 minutes or more and John and Eric dispatched their rivals in about 5 minutes!!

Sunday brought much lighter winds, but we still managed to get one race in before it died. Race committee did a masterful job, planning a five-leg WL course and quickly adjusting, with a shortened second windward leg and finish leaving all sailors, no matter where they placed breathing a sigh of relief. The standings definitely got scrambled some, with some strong finishes from deeper in the fleet (I'm looking at you, Sandy Eustis!).

29 boats pretty much filled up the Privateer docks. But there will always be room for one more...You may have missed this year, but put Choo Choo on your racing calendar for next year.

Bruce and Lynn Kitchen, and others, admiring their new boat, Kitchen Sink III

Meanwhile, I'll post results as soon as I can create an Excel spread sheet that includes CREW!! Grrrrrrr!!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Next Up, Chattanooga Choo Choo!

For those of you dreaming of the sailing season starting, consider traveling to Chattanooga this weekend. The Privateer Yacht Club hosts the Chattanooga Choo Choo Flying Scot regatta every year and this year promises to be a doozy. Organizers think maybe 30 boats will be there, and I happen to know that several boats from Clinton and from Carlyle will be coming, along with Ryan Malmgren and Stacey Rieu from Madison, Bruce and Lynn Kitchen from Ohio District, and even Harry Carpenter, who will be delivering a brand new boat to Rob Fowler. Often Corky and Molly Hadden from Bay St. Louis, MS, often come north for the event as well. There will be tons of outstanding competition!
You can find a little more information at
Hope to see you there!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Jennifer and Mike Faugust Make Midwest District Proud!!

View of the club from the water
After Wednesday's lay day we ended up with fabulous weather on Thursday. Winds were about 8-10, temperatures were moderate and all was right with the world. We started an hour earlier to squeeze in races before the end of the regatta. It was one of those days where I pinch myself. We're so lucky to be able to do this!

We saw a loon near our boat and John Cassada said a pod of dolphins followed him to the race course. Shangri La!

We had two good races, each four legs, WL. Ben and I got to the upwind mark in first place in the first race, which made us very happy! And we were neck and neck with Larry Taggart the whole rest of the race, with Ryan Malmgren sneaking up at the very end to snatch the win. We grabbed second and Larry got third. What a fun fun finish!

But it was Mike and Jen Faugust who carried the flag for the Midwest District. They finished sixth in that first race, just one point ahead of Crazy Love. They needed to beat Crazy Love (Ned Johnston and Ryan Donoghue - top notch 470 sailors) by three points in the final race to sneak by them in the standings. In the last race Jennifer and Mike finished second and Crazy Love finished in a cluster behind them. They couldn't tell, had they put enough boats into Crazy Love to grab second place in this national event? It turned out they did!

Yay Faugusts!!
I know it's terribly back lit, but trust me, Jennifer and Mike are grinning very widely!!
Randy Adolphs trophied in the Challenger fleet, which we were also very proud of. I hope he comes to more national events!!

Next up for many Midwest District boats is the Chattanooga Choo Choo 4/23 and 24. For those who haven't been, I highly recommend it. Great lake, great club! Two or three boats from Carlyle will be there, Ryan and Stacey from Madison,  and at least three Clinton Lake boats, not to mention several boats from Ohio and probably down south (I'm looking at you, Corky and Molly!)

Wednesday a Blow out, Thursday Fabulouso

Well, we are back home after a wonderful wonderful week, but I have some catching up to do, considering I never posted after the postponement on Wednesday. Bottom line, the wind continued to blow with steady winds at about 26 mph, with gusts in the 30s, according to various verbal reports I heard. There never was any question, it appeared, about going out. It's nice when the decision is so clear.

Gordy's tent. Looks hobbity to me!

The rest of the day we hung around, especially around tent city. I should have mentioned sooner, there were about a dozen tent campers at the club which made the week very fun. We met some sailors new to us from Cowan Lake Sailing Association (Sean, Andy, Scott and Julius, among others), visited with fellow Midwest District sailors Bronson and Rachel Bowling, and Craig Rost and Rob Parker, plus Gordy Roberts from Ephraim, and renewed our acquaintance with Paul Lee from Detroit, who sailed with his kids, Rhys and Adrianna. Tent city was a fun subculture to the regatta and had the added appeal of being FREE and within easy walking distance of the bar where I discovered that my current favorite drink is a dark and stormy - ginger beer with rum. The first one I had I liked best and I think I need to do some research about rum types in the future. But it's all good!

Tent City and its inhabitants. See all the tents?

Tents City and its inhabitants, you can see the people better here

From left, Bronson, Rob, Scott, Julius and Sean
On top of the wind, the late afternoon brought some dramatic squalls that sent us all running to close up our tents and then dashing for the bar. That night was also the banquet, so I put on some relatively clean clothes and we headed over to the main building. We heard a little bit about each upcoming national event, first the Wife Husband at Fishing Bay (no one here to give it a plug), the NAC at Newport (Diane Kampf gave us a preview) and then next year's Midwinters. For that Larry Taggart and Carrie Berger handed out all kinds of bling, as you can see from this video of Paul Lee...

The fun never stopped!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Blowing the Hairs off the Bears...sitting on chairs?

Well, today it's blowing about 26 or 28, depending on when you ask, so we are all on shore. I have not heard a single solitary complaint. It is just too darn much! Bronson Bowling says it's blowing the hairs off the bears, but Dave Thinel says that's wrong, it's blowing the dogs off the chains. Either way, you get the picture! I have heard some people saying it won't peak until about 3 pm, so I don't know if we'll sail today or not.

That gives me time, at least to write a bit about yesterday and the event in general.

So yesterday we had two races, one four-leg and one five-leg. The breeze stayed in the north and the seabreeze could not overcome it. Meanwhile the current was ebbing, which I think meant we should stay on the right side going upwind. We got a great start at the boat end and headed to the right, as we planned. Then the wind shifted about 20 degrees to the left and I thought that was a sign the seabreeze was coming in. So we went left. Did not pay off! Note to self, don't get suckered by a fake seabreeze. And in a fleet like this, don't separate from the smart guys!
Ben and Deb hoisting the spinn

Overall, the Midwest District sailors are holding their own. The Faugusts dropped a couple places, as did Team Sophie. In the Challenger Division Randy Adolphs is still in the trophy race!
Jennifer and Michael Faugust adjusting their rigging

I will mention that this is John Cassada's very first national event and he is having a blast! Before the event, he was figuring he'd just do this event and skip Chattanooga Choo Choo (in two weeks) and Ephraim in August, but now he's trying to figure out how to work his calendar to do them all!

John's crew Adam blocking the waves like a good crew does

This morning John realized his goose neck had sheared off (from yesterday's blow perhaps?) and I know Craig Rost has had a few equipment troubles, including a rip in his spinnaker, but we have enough sailmakers and boat builders to come to the rescue!

Craig tuning his boat

But back to yesterday's racing: the second race the current was even stronger and we paid the price at the windward mark. We were doing pretty well that race until the second upwind leg. Even accounting for the current taking us down, we tacked too early and hit the mark. Ugh! Then, in trying to get out of the way to do a circle, we hit the OFFSET mark. Argh again! So, two circles later we were back in the race, but in a fleet like that you can't make those kinds of mistakes and not pay the price! We didn't feel too bad since we heard of several other people hitting the mark and one boat even dragging it a significant distance before being able to unhook it from their rudder.

That's about all I have to report from the racing. Sadly, each race becomes a blur even before it ends. If I had a better memory I'd be able to provide more details. But maybe some of the other sailors will be able to contribute their stories. I'll go ask.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Three Races in Hefty Breeze for First Day of Racing

The regatta started yesterday in lovely conditions. It's sunny and moderate and no matter what happens on the race course, you're just happy to be on the water in a sailboat, especially when it's snowing in various parts of Maryland and the Midwest.
Bronson and Rachel
Also, there are some fabulous photographs being taken and shared on Facebook at 2016 Flying Scot Midwinters. Go there! A picture is worth a thousand words, as the pundits say. Anyway, I'm happy to say that the Midwest District was ably represented yesterday. Mike and Jennifer Faugust had an absolutely stellar day, finishing in second place behind Flying Scot juggernaut Zeke Horowitz and his dad, Jay, by only a few points. Way to go Mike and Jen!

Ben and I, wearing our new glow in the dark Glow shirts,
had a second place finish in the very first race. That felt very very very good!
The view after our first finish

Craig and Rob

And in the Challenger fleet, Randy Adolphs and crew, Chris Zentmyer, are leading the division with consistent finishes of 3, 2 and 2.
Randy Adolphs

Conditions were so good we did three, four-leg, windward-leeward races yesterday. The thinking is to get racing in while the conditions are good. The wind was moderate out of the northwest until just before racing started, when the good old seabreeze came in and we had to wait for the race committee to reset the course. But once that was done the wind was pretty steady all afternoon, building through the races. By the last race the front crew was getting heavily doused as waves broke over the bow frequently. I think there were gusts about 15-18 by the end. Not that I'm complaining, of course! Ben and I wore our excellent neon yellow Glow shirts, courtesy of Eric Bussell. You can see in the photos that Eric is wearing his as well. Say it loud and say it proud, GLOW!
Eric and Gordy

Last night Ben and I went to Hunt's Oyster Bar with Harry Carpenter, Carrie and Tyler Andrews, Carrie Berger, Larry Taggart and John Domagala. We had a ton of fun visiting with them, but it was mostly out in the parking lot because we waited more than 90 minutes for a table! Yikes! After that the food would have to be gold plated to be worth the wait. Still, we had a lovely meal. I especially enjoyed the raw oysters, though I don't think I'll be as dedicated as Larry and Harry in my consumption of them!

Today I imagine we'll do three more races if the conditions hold. It's hard to describe just how gorgeous it is down here. I admit I was skeptical about St. Andrews Bay, but so far I love it!!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Shakedown Cruise

The Midwinters at St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club has begun! Everyone who is going to be measured has been measured, we had two practice races yesterday, as well as the competitors' meeting. Today the racing starts at 12:30, to take advantage, I assume of the afternoon's seabreeze.
We have a ton of sailors from the Midwest District. Eric Bussell and his crew Gordy Roberts (from Sturgeon Bay), Craig Rost and Rob Parker, Ryan Malmgren and his father-in-law, Ralph Rieu, Bronson and Rachel Bowling, Mike and Jennifer Faugust, John Cassada and Adam Sampson, Randy Adolphs, Bill Vogler and Jack McClurkin, and Ben and me. That's many more than from the Florida District, in which this event is being held. I think the Floridians are not feeling the need for a weeklong event since they've been sailing all winter ... not to mention getting a week off of work.
Eric and Gordy: Nice start!
The club is lovely and everyone is going out of their way to make us feel very welcome. At first I thought they had a very simple two story club with one big room. Next door was what I thought was a bank. So Ben and I were going to drive somewhere for dinner on Saturday when Craig Rost pointed across to what I thought was a closed up bank and suggested we all eat there. "Oh, that's part of the club?" I asked. It turns out that what I thought is a bank is a lovely building with a full fork and knife club, with a restaurant and bar. The best feature is the back patio which is shaded by an enormous and gorgeous live oak covered in Spanish moss. We had a delicious dinner. I had grouper for the first time of my life. A dense, buttery white fish. I'll be having it again!
I am surprised that the club has only one working hoist. That is to say, the other one works, but you have to roll your trailer by hand into the loose sand, which several people demonstrated was ridiculously hard. So, one hoist. There is a perfectly good ramp, but because we have to park about five blocks away it is not practical to use the ramp. If there were an ATV to help, that would be nice, but the other problem is the hoist and the ramp are almost right on top of each other...
So, one hoist for 40 boats. But no one's in any rush, it's all good!!
Yesterday we had two practice races. The wind at first was pretty manageable for us northerners. I'd say it was 8-10. By the end of the second race it was closer to 15 and had shifted dramatically to the southwest from the northwest. Hopefully today conditions will either be lighter or I'll have gotten stronger over night.  We'll be using a lot of vang.
I went to the Executive Committee and the Board of Governors meetings. The good news is that there is no news. Our finances are stable, membership is at the same level as last year. But if anyone reading this hasn't renewed their membership...DO IT NOW!! Please. The class is only as vibrant as its collected members. It's up to each one of us! Bronson Bowling described his plans for match racing at Carlyle Lake. He has done a ton of work and the board was very interested to hear about his plans. It's scheduled for Labor Day, so put that on your calendars. Bronson said he'll be sending a story to Scots N Water about match racing for those of us who don't really know how it works.
More tomorrow.